Male Figure (Ofika)

Male Figure (Ofika)

late 1800s or early 1900s

Wood, colorant, and upholstery studs

42.2 cm (16 5/8 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 2016.33


Figures such as this, known as ofika, were central to the initiation practices and the enforcement of laws among the all-male Lilwa association, a hierarchical organization that served educational, judicial, political, economic, and ritual functions among the Mbole. Meant to instill a moral code and to act as a cautionary symbol during initiation for Lilwa novices, ofika figures are believed to represent criminals who were ritually hanged for transgressions against Lilwa laws. The figure’s encrusted surface imitates how members covered their bodies with a substance made of ashes and palm oil during burial rites.

See also
African Art
African Art
Type of artwork: 

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance information, is based on historic information and may not be currently accurate or complete. Research on objects is an ongoing process, but the information about this object may not reflect the most current information available to CMA. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

Is something not working on this page? Please email

Request a digital file from Image Services that is not available through CC0, a detail image, or any image with a color bar. If you have questions about requesting an image, please email